Check_MK and vSphere – vCenter Server


This post is the third part in a series about Check_MK and vSphere. In the second part, I showed you the options for monitoring an ESXi host without using vCenter Server. In this post we will explore the options for monitoring a vCenter Server on Windows and also the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA).

vCenter Server Windows

For this POC we have a vCenter Server 6.0 U2 (build 3634793) on a Windows Server 2012 R2. As this is a normal Windows server, I installed the Check_MK agent for Windows and added the host to Check_MK. For the property Agent type, select “Check_MK Agent (Server)”.

2016-08-21_01Figure 1

By default the Check_MK Windows Agents presents – without further tweaking – a lot of information; CPU and Memory utilization, Disk I/O, status of the filesystems, status of the Network interfaces and many more.

Now it’s time to reveal the vSphere options. We follow the same procedure as we did for the ESXi host. In the WATO configuration go to Host & Service Parameters \ Datasource Programs and select Check state of VMware ESX via vSphere. Now create a second rule for the vCenter Server, start with providing a descriptive name.

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Check_MK and vSphere – ESXi


This post is the second part in a series about Check_MK monitor and vSphere. In the first part Check_MK was introduced and some basic Installation and Configuration was explained.

According to the documentation, for monitoring VMware ESXi and vCenter Server, Check_MK has implemented a plugin that uses the vSphere API for retrieving information. This plugin is much more efficient than versions based on the Perl API.

So let’s start and see what can be revealed. To get a clear understanding of the various options, I will perform a step-by-step configuration instead of ticking all options at once.

The first step is to go into WATO and add an ESXi host. Under WATO, choose, Hosts and New Host.

2016-08-10-01Figure 1

You must at least enter the Hostname and an IP address, the Alias is optional. Under Agent Type place a tick and select “No Agent”.

At this time, the result is not very exciting; the ESXi host will be pinged.

2016-08-10-02Figure 2

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Check_MK and vSphere – Introduction



Infrastructure monitoring is essential to carry out proper System Administration. Infrastructure consists of many components, starting with the basics such as server hardware, network components, storage, uninterruptible power supplies, backup equipment, but also environmental factors such as temperature and air humidity in server rooms. Apart from understanding the hardware, software is the next layer. Starting with Operating Systems; monitoring of resources such as CPU, memory, storage, network, state of essential services etc. Next level is applications and chained applications. Examples, monitoring mail queues of a mail server or databases from a SQL Server and so on.

Today, many monitoring products are available; many of these are tailored to special purposes and don’t cover all aspects of an Infrastructure.
I have noticed in recent years that many organizations are searching for a single product that can be used for monitoring as many components. Because nowadays most organizations run workloads on virtualized infrastructure, this means an extra challenge for the monitoring software.

Years ago, when I worked as a Sysadmin and virtualization was in a very early stage, my favorite monitoring software was a combination of the following products Nagios, Cacti and an advanced Syslog server.
Nagios has its origins as an Open Source product. Due to its open source nature, there are many products derived from Nagios, examples; OP5, Opsview, Groundwork, Check_MK and many more.

Some time ago Check_MK caught my attention, mainly because of its versatility and its ability to monitor diverse infrastructure including VMware vSphere.

In this and subsequent blog posts, I will investigate the potential of Check_MK, in particular the possibilities to monitor vSphere and other VMware products. Since there are already many excellent articles written about the installation and configuration I will not repeat these steps. Where needed, I will include references to articles that I used to build my Proof-of-Concept and issues that I encountered.

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View Agent, what is installed?



While (re)installing the VMware Horizon View Agent you can choose from many features. (De)Selecting a feature can have a big impact on the user experience (Once a customer was very upset when he found out that Client Drive Redirection was activated…).
After finishing the installation of the View Agent, there is no easy way to review the features installed (as far as I know). Luckily, the log files created during the installation provide a lot of information.

Location of the log files: C:\ProgramData\VMware\logs.
Search for the latest vmmsi.log, these come in the format: vmmsi.log_yyyymmdd_hhmmss.
Note, there are also log files starting with vminst.

Open the log file with your favorite editor.

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Install VMware Tools in CentOS 7


20160708-01The VMware Tools are an essential part during the installation of a Virtual Machine. For many Operating Systems you can go the easy way and install the VMware Tools right from the vSphere Web Client. You will install the VMware Tools that comes bundled with vSphere ESXi.

BTW, Since September 2015, there is also a downloadable version of VMware Tools (versions 10.0, 10.0.5, 10.0.8 and 10.0.9). The Downloadable versions (should be seen as a Solution) support all version of ESXi from 5.0 and later, see VMware Product Interoperability Matrixes. See the release notes of the latest version.

So far so good, for Windows Operating Systems, the installation of the VMware Tools is a no brainer. For Linux operating systems, installation is more complicated, for most reasons because Linux Operation Systems do have multiple options to install software.

In my case, I usually work with CentOS (based on the sources of Red Hat Enterprise Linux RHEL). CentOS uses RPM as a packet manager. Packet Managers do have many advantages while maintaining a Linux server. Unfortunately, the bundled version of the VMware Tools doesn’t come in .rpm format, but as an archive file in tar.gz format. Although installation of a .tar.gz is straightforward, it is not the way to go.

An alternative is using VMware’s OSP repository, see this nice post in case you want to know more. You can browse the OSP repository here. For CentOS, browse the corresponding RHEL version. You will also notice that there is no entry for RHEL7. Trying the RHEL6 version failed in my case.

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VMware Certified Advanced Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization Deployment Beta Exam



Update 12-6-2016: The VMware Certified Advanced Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization Deployment Beta Exam (3V0-623) is available for a short time, starting 15 June 2016. As the official post states, the exam will not be available in all regions. More information, blueprints and registration can be found here.

I recently stumbled upon the VMware Certified Advanced Professional 6 Data Center Virtualization Deployment Beta exam, probably the successor of the famous VCAP5-Data Center Administration exam. Passing this exam is the final step on your road to the VCAP6-DCV Deploy Certification. For more information about the requirements, have a look at this page.

In the past, I have written two Study guides to help you pass the VCAP5-DCA exam, being the VDCA510 (vSphere 5.1) and VDCA550 (vSphere 5.5) exam. So with this new VCAP6 exam, let’s have a look at the changes.

So let us compare the objectives of this new VCAP6 with latest VDCA550 (vSphere 5.5) exam.

First, the name of the exam and the certification has been changed; in VCAP6 it’s “Datacenter Virtualization Deployment” instead of “Data Center Administration

Second, I have always wondered why the objectives started with Storage- and Network Infrastructure, instead of the Infrastructure components (vCenter Server, ESXi etc.). This Exam Blueprint starts with “Create and Deploy vSphere 6.x Infrastructure Components”, which makes more sense to me.

It will be no surprise that the objectives have not been completely changed and contain many objectives found in previous editions. A brief overview of the objectives, where applicable a reference to the VDCA550 (vSphere 5.5) exam has been made ( ==> <VDCA550 Objective>).

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Deploying replica fails with .vmdk access errors


A quick post about an annoyance I encountered while recomposing a View Horizon Linked-Clone desktop pool to multiple local datastores. In this situation multiple replicas will be created from the Parent VM.

These replicas are created simultaneously; however during this process the task pane in the vCenter Server shows many .vmdk access errors on the parent VM and as a result replicas are created one after the other.

VMware KB “Deploying multiple virtual machines in VMware vCenter Server 5.x and 6.0.x from the same template fails with the error: vmdk access error (2114026)” explains that this issue occurs because of locked –ctk.vmdk files. These files are part of the Change Block Tracking (CBT) mechanism. The KB provides instructions how to modify the settings of the Parent VM by disabling CBT.

However after editing the .vmx file and deleting the –ctk.vmdk files from the datastore, the files reappeared immediately. To resolve this behavior, SSH to an ESXi host and browse to the datastore where the Parent VM is located.
Then, edit ALL .vmdk files and remove or comment out the line starting with; changeTrackPath=.

2016-04-24-01Figure 1

Now, the –ctk.vmdk files will be gone for good.
To prevent third-party applications from enabling CBT, you can add the following line to the .vmx file of the Parent VM: ctkDisallowed=”true”.
As always, I thank you for reading and welcome your comments.


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